Washington, DC — The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a $1.5 million grant for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Colorado Boulder, to study and cultivate a national network of STEM education centers at universities throughout the United States. The four-year grant will fund a wide range of outreach, analysis and advisory functions. APLU will help oversee coordination of the national network of STEM education centers.
The campus STEM education centers in this network typically focus on course transformation, curriculum design, discipline-based education research, scholarly teaching, and interdisciplinary interaction. The NSF grant will help build a sustainable organizational structure that fosters collaboration among STEM education centers nationwide.
The first-of-its-kind national network aims to bring together a variety of STEM education centers to evaluate new strategies, share best practices and drive the adoption of innovative approaches to undergraduate STEM education. In addition to studying the roles and impacts of STEM education centers on campuses, the network will work to enhance the capacities of these centers to improve undergraduate STEM education and to disseminate and scale exciting innovations and proven practices.
“The National Science Foundation grant will prove vital as we work to make undergraduate STEM education a top priority at our institutions,” said Kacy Redd, Director of Science and Mathematics Education Policy at APLU and co-director of the initiative. “STEM education centers are remarkable agents of discovery and creativity, and the national network promises to help magnify their impact on students, campuses and communities.”
“It’s extremely valuable for institutions to have a dedicated forum to exchange ideas, compare practices and work together to address the pressing need to improve and expand undergraduate STEM education,” said Noah Finkelstein, professor of physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-director of the network. “That’s why a national network is so important.”
There is a widely recognized need to boost the quantity of STEM graduates in the United States as the country works to maintain and expand its edge in STEM fields, but less attention and resources have been devoted to improving the quality of STEM education. The network will work to improve quality and effectiveness while spotlighting what is already working at STEM education centers.
APLU has spearheaded several initiatives to help meet the growing demand for STEM graduates. Through the Science and Mathematics Teaching Imperative, APLU has worked with its institutions to help prepare 10,000 new science and mathematics teachers each year. This initiative, along with the STEM education centers networks, is aimed at spurring innovation and improving education at the country’s public universities.